Rally condemns Egypt death sentences

A symbol of protest against the coup in Egypt.

About 200 people rallied in Melbourne on March 27 to express their opposition to the death sentences imposed on 529 Egyptians at a mass trial of alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Minya.

Protestors held placards with slogans including “Say yes to democracy and no to brutal dictatorship”, and “Say yes to justice and no to a corrupt and complicit judiciary”.

Mahmoud Hegazy told the rally that the charges included membership of an illegal organisation (the Muslim Brotherhood), incitement to violence, and the murder of one policeman.

Hegazy said the defence lawyers had no opportunity to cross-examine the accusers. One of the defence lawyers was himself sentenced to death during the trial.

President of Australians for Democracy and Human Rights in Egypt Adel Salman told the rally that an unknown number of people had been killed in “bloody massacres” in August and September, following the military coup.

He said that “hundreds, if not thousands” of people had been killed, while thousands of others had been jailed without charges. They are held in “horrible conditions”, with no access to lawyers or their families.

Salman said that what is happening in Egypt is a “counter-revolution”, following the revolution that overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak. “The ‘deep state’ is taking its revenge”, he said.

Salman said that the Australian government has been silent about events in Egypt. He called on the government to condemn the verdict of the mass trial, as well as the continued detention of thousands of prisoners. He said the government should condemn the coup and demand “a return to the democratic path”.

Hadeel Almadhoun spoke of the terrible conditions endured by the prisoners. Overcrowding in the jails is extreme. Children between 12 and 17 years of age have been arrested and tortured. She also criticised the Australian media for not covering events in Egypt.

Ahmed Huwait told the rally that he disagrees with the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood. “But we must protect the human rights of everyone, whether we agree with them or not”, he said.

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